HEALTH STRATEGY OF THE REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA, SAFE, EFFICIENT AND JUST HEALTH CARE SYSTEM

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1 REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA MINISTRY OF HEALTH HEALTH STRATEGY OF THE REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA, 2020 SAFE, EFFICIENT AND JUST HEALTH CARE SYSTEM SKOPJE, FEBRUARY 2007

2 TABLE OF CONTENTS Abbreviations 3 Summary 4 Introduction 6 1. Analysis Challenges: the need for reform 8 2. Demographic situation and socioeconomic condition 8 3. Health Delivery of health services to citizens Overview Primary health care Secondary and tertiary health care Dental care Public health Human resources Health care quality assurance Health care financing Other issues Pharmaceutical services Health information system Consumers interests Priorities of the strategy 32 Strategy Priorities with regard to health improvement Priorities with regard to the improvement of the organisation of health care Priorities with regard to the improvement of the specialized 38 health care public health 14. Priorities with regard to the improvement of the planning and the 39 quality of the human resources 15. Priorities with regard to the improvement of the quality of health care Priorities with regard to the improvement of health care financing Macroeconomic context Financial control Basic benefits package Contracting and paying providers Improvement of the pharmaceutical services Priorities with regard to the improvement of the health information system Priorities with regard to the management of the health care reform Annex A Annex B 52 2

3 Abbreviations Strategy Health strategy of the Republic of Macedonia 2020 ATI Acute toxic infection = acute food poisoning EU European Union DMFT Decayed, missing, filled teeth DOTS Directly observed treatment short course (for tuberculosis) DRG Diagnosis related groups GDP Gross Domestic Product HIFM Health Insurance Fund of Macedonia HFA Health For All HFA-DB Health For All data base ICD-9 (-10) International Classification of Diseases, 9th (10th) revision ICT Information and Communication Technology IHIS Integrated Health Information System MDG Millennium Development Goal PHC Primary health care SDR Standardised death rate RIHP Republic Institute for Health Protection UNDP United Nations Development Programme WHO World Health Organisation 3

4 Summary The Health Strategy of the Republic of Macedonia 2020 sets out the vision for improvement of the health and of the health care system, which will be responsive to the needs of the population. The achievement of the goals, objectives and guidelines included in this strategy will be ensured by way of adopting an Action plan and by the implementation thereof. The analysis of the health status of the population in the Republic of Macedonia and in the world shows that priority health problems are and will continue to be the chronic noninfectious diseases, the new infectious diseases and the emergency cases. Maintenance and improvement of the health will be the main instrument for improving the health status of the population, especially of the vulnerable groups. The effectiveness and efficiency of the overall health care delivery system will be increased. Primary health care oriented towards the individual, the family and the community, with emphasis on the preventive health care and on satisfying the majority of the health needs of the population, will continue to be the basis of the health care system in the Republic of Macedonia. The hospital health care will be provided in a defined network of general and specialised hospitals. They will satisfy the needs of the local population in need of secondary health care, thus reducing the pressure on the tertiary health care. The specialized preventive health care of the population (public health) will be provided by way of strengthening and modernizing the Institutes for Health Protection and the occupational medicine services. Human resources are the core of the health care system. Staff expertise and competence will be improved through modernization of the under-graduation and post-graduation studies, implementation of different forms of continued education, and professional development. The assurance of the quality of health care will be a priority in the period to come, and this will be achieved through the implementation of accreditation and re-accreditation of health care institutions, health care workers, procedures and guidelines for treatment, implementation of internal and external assessment, and greater participation and influence of the consumers of health services. The financing of the health care system will continue to be based on health insurance and on the mutuality, solidarity and equity principles, while providing for its sustainability. The basic benefits package under the health insurance will be defined according to the needs of the population and the available financial resources. The Health Insurance Fund will be modernized in order for it to provide for the implementation of health insurance and of the basic benefits package. 4

5 The Ministry of Health, in cooperation with other governmental and non-governmental organizations, professional associations and the public, will manage the modernisation of the health care system of the Republic of Macedonia. 5

6 INTRODUCTION The strategy presents the vision for improvement of the health status and health care of the population in the Republic of Macedonia until It identifies priority areas and aims to ensure that those health services that are being delivered will provide the highest possible benefits for the citizens. A health system according to the World Health Organisation includes all the actors and activities the primary purpose of which is to promote, improve or maintain the health of the citizens. Organised health services, i.e. the health care system, are only one of the many factors for maintaining good health, recovering from ill health, or making the life with chronic illness easier. Health is influenced by many external factors such as environmental, social and economic factors, and by factors related to lifestyles and to other sectors in the society. This strategy focuses on the issues related to the health care system that are under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health, emphasizing the need for intersectoral cooperation in various fields such as environmental health, food safety, occupational health and safety, protection against smoking, fight against alcoholism and addiction diseases, as well as the responsibility of the citizens for their own health. The health is priceless but health services cost money. Living within a defined budget means that balance must be established between the needs within the possibilities that are available. This strategy gives priority to those health services that are most needed and most efficient, as well as most appreciated by the population, reflecting the views of both the experts and the public. The choices made in the strategy are based on the development of the health care system in the Republic of Macedonia so far, and various national and international documents and strategies have been used. The strategy is based on the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia which guarantees the right of every citizen to health care, the World Health Organisation s Health for all in the 21 st century strategy for the European region, the Millennium Declaration of the United Nations, the public health policy of the EU, as well as on finished policies and strategies in various fields of health and health care (HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, mental health, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, food safety and nutrition, pharmaceuticals etc.) 6

7 Article 39 of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia Every citizen is guaranteed a right to health care. Citizens have the right and duty to protect and promote their own health and the health of others. Everyone has the right to live in a healthy environment. Everyone is obliged to promote and protect the environment. The Republic provides conditions for the exercise of the rights of citizens to a healthy environment (Article 42 of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia). The health care system of the Republic of Macedonia will be developed so that it becomes compatible with the EU system, thus providing for free movement of the health professionals, services and patients. Underlying principles and values of the health strategy are: * Equity, which means that the whole population has financial and geographical access to a package of basic health services. * The citizens, the Government, all health care institutions providing health services, public and private enterprises, as well as non-governmental organisations, are responsible for the health. * Health insurance, creating mutuality and solidarity between sick and healthy, poor and rich, and young and old. The goal of better health for all will be achieved by: * Strengthening health promotion and disease prevention. * Reduction of inequalities in health and access to health services. * Strengthening of primary health care as the foundation of the health care system. * Reorganization and promotion of the secondary and tertiary health care. * Modernisation of public health services. * Better planning and management of the human resources in health care. * Assurance of the quality and effectiveness of health services. * Achieving efficiency and financial sustainability of the health care sector. * Appropriate mix of public and private providers in the health care system. The health care system provides: * Public health services aimed at the community, as well as health services to individuals; * The generation of human and financial resources; * Proper financing of the health care sector: raising and pooling of sufficient financial resources, purchasing effective and quality services from health care providers, and proper methods for paying health care providers; 7

8 * Stewardship: effective and efficient organisation and management of the health care sector. The strategy uses the functional approach to the health care system, as proposed by the World Health Organisation. The statistical data in this strategy are taken primarily from official publications of the Ministry of Health, the Republic Institute for Health Protection (RIHP), and from the Health For All database (HFA-DB) of the European Bureau of the World Health Organisation. 1. ANALYSIS 1.1. CHALLENGES: THE NEED FOR REFORM Target 1 The present gap in health status between the Republic of Macedonia and the member states of the European Union should be reduced by at least one third. The Republic of Macedonia, with the independence gained in 1991, inherited a large and well-established health care system with good geographical and financial accessibility, long positive experience with health insurance covering nearly the whole population, qualified staff, good control of infectious diseases, and almost full coverage of the population with the national immunisation programme. The health status of the population is similar as in the other countries of South-Eastern Europe, but is lagging behind the EU countries. However, the health care sector is faced with several challenges associated with the improvement of the health status of the population, the provision of basic benefits package, delivery of health services, public health, planning, management and development of human resources, quality assurance, health financing, and provision of a sustainable system of health care. 2. DEMOGRAPHIC AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC SITUATIONS Target 2 The health gap between socio-economic groups within the Republic of Macedonia should be reduced by at least a fourth, thus substantially improving the level of health of disadvantaged groups. The Republic of Macedonia has a total population of 2,022,547 inhabitants (2002 census), of whom around 60 % live in urban areas, with an average population density of 78.6 inhabitants/km 2. Demographic, economical, social, environmental as well as health characteristics of the population demonstrate significant rural-urban differences. An important demographic characteristic of the country is its multiethnic composition of the 8

9 population, with 64.18% Macedonians, 25.17% Albanians, 3.85% Turks, 2.66% Romas, 1.78% Serbs and 0.4% Vlachs. Figure 1. Age pyramid, mid Males Females 4,8 % 5,8 % 10.9 % 10,2 % Source: Statistical Yearbook of the Republic of Macedonia, From 1990 to 2003 the percentage of the population over 65 years of age increased from 7.97 to 10.6% (males 4.8% and females 5.8%), while the population from 0-14 years decreased to 21.1% (males 10.9% and females 10.2%) as shown in Figure 1. Notwithstanding the increase in the proportion of the elderly population, the population is still relatively young in comparison with the averages for the EU and for Central and Eastern European countries. Figure 2. Natural demographic changes, live births per ,5 20,6 18,7 17,1 13,3 13,3 natural increase per ,4 13,6 11,7 9,8 5 4,4 deaths per ,1 7 7,1 7,3 8,3 8,9 Source: Statistical Yearbook of the Republic of Macedonia,

10 The birth rate in Macedonia for 2004 is 11.5 per 1,000 population, and the mortality rate 8.8 per 1,000, resulting in a natural increase of 2.7 per 1,000. Target 5 People over 65 years will have a better health and a more active social life. The distribution of deaths by age shows the highest proportion of total deaths for age 75 and over (43,6%). Age group accounts for 28%, and age group for 13.4% of the deaths. The per capita Gross Domestic Product for 2004 was US$ 2,382. The unemployment rate in Macedonia in 2005 was 36.5% of the total labour force, placing Macedonia among countries with an extremely high unemployment rate in Europe. The relative poverty in the Republic of Macedonia for 2004 is expressed with a Poverty Gap Index - the average proportionate expenditures shortfall for the total population - of 9.4, and with a Head Count Index - the percentage of persons living below the poverty line - of 29.3% (source: State Statistical Office, 2005). The population groups identified as being most at risk of poverty are the unemployed, socially imperilled households, pensioners and farmers. Larger households in rural areas, particularly those with members that are unemployed or have low educational levels, are identified as a specific risk together with the unemployed in urban areas. Poverty has a serious impact on the health status of the population and on the access to health services. 3. HEALTH Morbidity and mortality are part of human existence, but we should always try to maximise the number of healthy life years for all citizens. This means reducing morbidity and mortality from preventable diseases, but if necessary also by effective cure and care services. In some respects of health, Macedonian citizens are less healthy than the average EU citizen. It is difficult to compare differences in the burden of disease between countries except for some specific diseases. As for the total number of years an average citizen can expect to live (average total life expectancy at birth), this is five years less in Macedonia than in the 15 old countries of the European Union (EU15): 73.5 years vs years (source: HFA-DB, 2003 data). As in most other European countries, Macedonian men can expect to live 5 years less than Macedonian women. Much of the difference with EU15 is explained by a higher prevalence of cardiovascular disease, partly caused by a high use of tobacco and by uncontrolled hypertension and hypercholesterolemia. Another indicator that combines life expectancy with the burden of disease is the so-called healthy life expectancy, i.e. the total number of years that a person can expect to live in good health, without disease or permanent disability. Healthy life expectancy in Macedonia is 63.4 years, compared to Greece (71.0), Bulgaria (64.6), Serbia & Montenegro (63.8), and Albania (61.4) (source: World Health Report 2003). 10

11 Circulatory diseases are the leading cause of death in Macedonia, accounting for nearly 57% of all deaths in The standardised death rate (SDR) per 100,000 inhabitants for circulatory diseases has increased from 527/100,000 in 1991 to 599/100,000 in In this context, stroke is prevailing. Overall mortality from malignant neoplasm as the second most important cause of death has also increased over the past ten years, from SDR 140/100,000 in 1991 to 165/100,000 in Injuries and poisoning are the third leading cause of death. Respiratory diseases occupy the fourth place, with bronchitis, emphysema and asthma accounting for more than 60% of these deaths. Diseases of the endocrine system represent the fifth most important cause of death. Figure 3. Standardised death rates (SDR), all ages, per 100,000 inhabitants for selected diseases. Source: WHO HFA-DB, January The standardised death rates for cardiovascular diseases in the Republic of Macedonia are high compared to Albania, Greece and the EU15. The standardised death rate for cancer is about average (see Figures 4 and 5). 11

12 Figure 4. Standardised death rates (SDR), all ages, per 100,000 inhabitants for circulatory disease. Source: WHO HFA-DB, January Figure 5. Standardised death rates (SDR), all ages, per 100,000 inhabitants for malignant neoplasm. Source: WHO HFA-DB, January

13 Target 3 All newborn babies, infants and pre-school children in the Republic of Macedonia should have better health, ensuring a healthy start in life. Target 4 Young people in the country should be healthier and better able to fulfil their roles in society. These targets will be achieved also through the accomplishment of the Millennium Development Goal No. 4 reduction of the under-five mortality rate by two-thirds by This rate was 33.3 per 1,000 live births in 1990 and 12.6 per 1,000 in 2003 (see Figure 6). The rate for the Republic of Macedonia should be below 11 per 1,000 in Infant mortality rate in 2004 was 13.2 per 1,000 live births, and in 2005 it was 12.8 per 1,000 live births. Figure 6. Infant mortality rate and Under 5 mortality rate in Macedonia for the period ,0 30,0 20,0 10,0 0, U5MR 33,3 30,2 32,3 25,3 25,5 24,5 18,3 17,2 17,6 15,6 13,6 12,9 11,7 12,6 IMR 31,6 28,3 30,6 24,1 22,5 22,7 16,4 15,7 16,3 14,9 11,8 11,9 10,2 11,3 Source: Macedonian MDG report, Maternal mortality rate in the RM has been variable in the last years; for 2001 it was 14.8 on 100,000 live births, and for 2003 it was 3.7 on live births (WHO HFA Database). MDG 5 is about reducing the maternal mortality rate and bringing it under the category of sporadic cases of maternal mortality, which would be result, inter alia, of the high proportion of births taking place in health care facilities (98,9% in 2005) (source: Statistical Yearbook of the RM for 2006, page 66). Target 6 People s psychosocial well-being should be improved and better comprehensive services should be available to and accessible by people with mental health problems. 13

14 At present, the institutional treatment is prevailing in the mental health system. In recent years, five community centres for mental health have been established in Skopje, Prilep, Tetovo, Gevgelija and Strumica, which provide day treatment, ambulatory care, home care and psychosocial rehabilitation in the community. The most commonly treated patients are those that have been on a long-term psychiatric treatment in an institution, as well as those that need services in the area of mental health. National Strategy for the Improvement of Mental Health for the period was adopted by the Government in 2005, the aims of which include: de-institutionalisation in the area of mental health; general hospitals taking over the role of the psychiatric hospitals; and opening of community mental health services. Primary health care services are at the moment not well prepared to cope with patients with mental health problems. There isn t any sufficiently developed network of services for counselling and treatment of children and adolescents with such problems either. Target 7 The adverse health effects of communicable diseases should be substantially diminished through systematically applied programmes to control, eliminate and eradicate infectious diseases of public health importance. MDG 6 is to halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS and TB by the year The number of known cases of HIV/AIDS is low in the Republic of Macedonia, but actual trends are not very clear and it is assumed that the actual number is significantly higher. The cumulative number of registered patients with HIV/AIDS was 96 at the end of 2006, of whom 69 with AIDS and 27 HIV positive. The National Strategy against HIV/AIDS for the period is for the most part implemented through the Program for prevention of HIV/AIDS supported by a grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The National Strategy on prevention of HIV/AIDS in the Republic of Macedonia for the period was developed under this program. The incidence of tuberculosis is higher in Macedonia than in EU15 countries: 32 vs per 100,000 population in Regional figures are: Bulgaria 41.3/ ; Serbia and Montenegro 37.2/ ; Croatia 33.7/ ; Albania 17.7/ , and Greece 5.6/100,000 (source: WHO EURO TB). A 5-year National Program for Control of Tuberculosis was implemented in the RM during the period In fact, the incidence of tuberculosis has been relatively stable during the last 15 years with new cases per year, but the prevalence rate has decreased by one-third in the last 5 years, which shows the effectiveness of the implementation of the DOTS treatment (see Figure 7). The occurrence of multi-resistance against anti-tuberculosis drugs is also being monitored under MDG 6. The Republic of Macedonia is a partner in the Global Fund project for fighting tuberculosis. The preparation of a National Strategy on Control of Tuberculosis is underway. 14

15 Figure 7. Tuberculosis prevalence and incidence in Macedonia for the period ,0 90,0 80,0 70,0 60,0 50,0 40,0 30,0 20,0 10,0 0, Incidence 35,4 33,1 30,1 37,4 35,9 40,0 36,5 34,7 30,9 28,6 33,0 34,3 36,1 34,4 Prevalence 81,0 79,6 77,9 81,1 88,5 85,0 86,8 83,3 77,1 70,5 58,9 55,6 53,8 48,7 Mortality 4,9 4,2 4,8 5,7 5,2 4,5 5,5 5,7 5,3 4,8 4,5 4,2 3,5 3,8 Source: Government of the Republic of Macedonia report on the MDGs, Figure 8. Number of registered patients per 100,000 for five most frequent communicable diseases in Macedonia, Enterocolitis ATI Hepatitis A Chickenpox Scabies Source: RIHP, Figure 8 gives the trend of the 5 most common infectious diseases in the Republic of Macedonia. The first two places are occupied by enterocolitis and chickenpox, followed by food poisoning, Hepatitis A and scabies. Target 8 In the Republic of Macedonia, morbidity, disability and premature mortality due to major chronic diseases should be reduced to the lowest feasible levels. 15

16 The coronary artery disease is an important public health problem in the country, with a fast pace of increase in mortality (the number of deaths has increased for 44% over ten years), and with an average of 100 deaths per 100,000 population. The standardized rate of death from cerebrovascular diseases for the age group 0 64 amounted to 37.2/100,000 in 2003 in the Republic of Macedonia, according to WHO. This indicator for the EU countries in 2003 was 9.87/ In 2004, 5696 cases of cancer were registered in the Republic of Macedonia, with a tendency of increase. Cancers, with the effects they have on human health, the high mortality rate and the high expenditures for the diagnosing and treatment thereof are a significant burden on the health care system. Around 11 people per population die each year from kidney failure on average, with half of the deaths due to chronic kidney failure. The number of patients on dialysis is around each year, with patients registered in In total, around transplantations are carried out annually, the majority of which are from a living donor (source: RIHP, 2005). The preparation of a Strategy for prevention and control of non-infectious diseases is underway. Target 9 There should be a significant and sustainable decrease in injuries, disability and death arising from accidents and violence. Injuries, permanent disability and deaths occur, inter alia, as a result of unintentional injuries and violence. Unintentional injuries are predominant in the total number of injuries, with a share of 67%, wherein traffic accidents account for 34%, suicides for 24% and homicides for 9% (State Statistical Office, 2006). Contrary to most chronic diseases, children and young adults are frequently victims of accidents and violence. Traffic traumatism data show that injuries acquired in road traffic cover 50% of all the injuries causing death among children and adolescents (source: State Statistical Office, 2006). Children and young adults up to the age of 24 are an important proportion in the total number of people injured (43.6%) and deceased (26.5%) in traffic accidents. Frequency and mortality from traffic accidents increase with age, and they are three times higher in men compared to women (source: RIHP, Faculty of Medicine, 2002). Target 10 The population should live in a safer physical environment, with exposure to contaminants hazardous to health not exceeding internationally agreed standards. 16

17 Good health and well-being require clean and harmonious environment in which physical, physiological, social and aesthetic factors are important. Human health depends on the availability and quality of food, water, air and housing. Even though the influence of the physical environment has been known for quite some time, the actuality of the problem is a result of new scientific evidence showing the link between the physical environment and the health. Several studies have shown that environmental risks account for 25-35% of the disease burden at global level (source: WHO-Environmental Burden of Diseases Series, 2004). Macedonia has a few environmental hot spots, characterized by high levels of pollution (air, water and soil), due to emissions from industrial facilities (Environmental Performance Review UN/WHO, 2001). National Environmental Health Action Plan was drafted in 1999, and it will be revised according to the second National Environmental Action Plan. In this segment, one should provide for intersectoral cooperation with other competent ministries and institutions. Target 11 People across society should adopt healthier patterns of living. Target 12 The adverse health effects from the consumption of addictive substances such as tobacco, alcohol and psychoactive drugs will decrease significantly in the Republic of Macedonia. Health statistics is insufficient with data on lifestyles. Several surveys have been carried out in the Republic of Macedonia in order to explore smoking habits. In 2002, through the realisation of WHO Project Global Youth Tobacco, it was found out that the prevalence of regular smokers was 8.2% among teenagers aged years, and 20% of them started smoking before the 10th year of life. 16% of the non-smokers stated that in the future they would maybe start smoking. In a survey that was carried out in aimed at planning of health education activities for the prevention of risk factors for ischemic heart disease among the population aged years old, a high prevalence of smokers was found (42.7%). There was an association between smoking and age, but not with the educational level (source: RIHP, Medical Faculty, 2004). A comprehensive Health Promotion Action Plan has not been developed yet. Under preparation is Strategy for Promotion of Adolescent Health and Strategy for Blood Safety. The National Food and Nutrition Action Plan is in process of implementation (until 2007). The Government has also adopted a Strategy for Fighting Tobacco in 2006, and since 16 September 2006, Macedonia, as a member-state of the WHO, ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Enforcement of the restriction of smoking in public and working premises is underway. 17

18 The first draft of the Strategy for Fighting Alcohol has been prepared. The Strategy for Drug Control, which defines the objectives and the activities in the area of drug demand and drug availability reduction for the period , was adopted by the Government in December 2006, and under preparation is the Action Plan for the implementation thereof. 4. DELIVERY OF HEALTH SERVICES TO CITIZENS 4.1 Overview Health care in the Republic of Macedonia is relatively easily accessible (geographically, economically and time-wise) for the population, because it is delivered within a widespread network of health care institutions. This makes it possible for around 90% of the population to get a health service in less than 30 minutes. Three segments comprise the health care system: primary, secondary and tertiary health care. Like in many other countries, the health care system in the Republic of Macedonia is oriented towards primary health care as the basis of the system, where the first contact with the health service is made and where the majority of the health care needs of the population are satisfied. Patients who need health care at higher level are referred by the primary health care doctor to ambulatory-policlinic treatment or hospital treatment. The network of health care institutions at secondary level is widespread, with certain differences in terms of space capacity and availability of staff and equipment. Despite the widespread network of different health care institutions, the system does not function as an integrated and coordinated system. There are several reasons for the lack of integration and co-ordination: The first reason is that the system is too fragmented and super-specialised. The second reason is that the chosen doctor usually does not provide comprehensive care and is not considered as the key player in the system. The third reason is that there are insufficient rules and incentives in place for proper gate keeping and referral to higher levels of the health care pyramid, as a result of what many patients are treated at inappropriate levels. 4.2 Primary health care Target 15 The population in the Republic of Macedonia will have better access to family- and community-oriented primary health care, supported by a flexible and responsive hospital system. 18

19 Primary health care in Macedonia is provided by different types of private and public health care organizations: doctor s offices, health stations and health houses. Preventive, promotional and curative services are provided in the primary health care. The latter is provided by many different types of health workers and co-workers: general physicians, specialists in general medicine, paediatricians, specialists in school age medicine, gynaecologists, and specialists in occupational medicine. The health workers mentioned above do not provide comprehensive primary health care except in villages with only one doctor. This system performs well in some areas (for example when providing immunisation and antenatal care) and less well in others (for example non-rational prescribing, high referral rates, lack of co-ordination between various treatments, and prevailing medicamentous treatment of the patients with mental health problems without paying sufficient attention to the psychosocial dimensions of the treatment). Too many patients are being seen by emergency care services or by secondary and even tertiary level physicians that could have been treated well at primary care level if the conditions there would have been better, or if gate keeping had been respected better. As in many other transition countries, widespread privatisation has taken place in the dentistry and pharmacy sectors (which will be discussed in chapter 10). Many physicians have also set up private practices. At present, 607 out of 1,722 primary health care physicians (most of them general physicians, paediatricians and gynaecologists) are working in private practice (source: Ministry of Health). Private primary care physicians do not provide comprehensive primary care including all preventive services and urgent care after office hours, i.e. they do not provide continued health care. The purpose of privatisation of the primary health care is to improve the quality of the health services, but its short-term and long-term consequences for service delivery have been insufficiently analysed. Citizens covered with the compulsory health insurance are obliged to choose a doctor in the primary health care sector - in a private or public health care institution. The principle of choosing a doctor in the primary health care in Macedonia has traditionally been fragmented and depends on the age and the sex of the users. Members of one family will usually have several chosen doctors (general practitioner, gynaecologist and paediatrician). A chosen doctor is not the same as family physician. In order to avoid fragmentation of the primary health care system, the Ministry of Health will aim at establishing multidisciplinary teams where the different doctors in one family will be in direct contact and cooperation. 4.3 Secondary and tertiary health care Secondary health care is provided in specialist-consultative services, general and special hospitals, offices and institutes. Tertiary health care is provided in clinical hospitals and in the University Clinical Centre. Preventive, curative and rehabilitation health services are provided at these two levels, and health care is provided by different types of specialists and sub-specialists. There are nearly 10,000 beds in the hospital sector, or 4.8 beds per 1,000 inhabitants, which is less than the EU average (6.2 per 1,000 population). More than half of the hospital beds are in specialised or tertiary care, which is too high of 19

20 a proportion. Skopje is over-supplied with 4,751 hospital beds (including the Military Hospital with 420 beds), divided into 1,848 beds in specialised hospitals, 360 beds in daily hospitals and 2,123 beds in the Clinical Centre (tertiary health care). There is no general secondary hospital in Skopje. (Source of hospital data: Institute of Health Protection - Skopje, 2006.) Apart from the University Clinical Centre in Skopje with 2,123 beds, there are 17 specialised and/or tertiary hospitals in Macedonia: 3 psychiatric hospitals, 4 rehabilitation hospitals, and 10 other hospitals (with many different specialisations), with 3,180 beds altogether. (source of hospital data: RIHP). Outside Skopje, there are 15 general hospitals (secondary health care) with at least the basic specialities of internal medicine, surgery, gynaecology and obstetrics and paediatrics. 20

21 General hospital Table 1. General hospitals (secondary level), Number of inhabitants Hospital doctors per 100,000 inhabitants Staff with secondary school training per 100,000 inhabitants Beds per 100,000 inhabitants Tetovo (1)191, Kumanovo (2)138, Bitola (including Resen, Demir Hisar) 131, Gostivar (4)118, Prilep (including Krushevo and Makedonski Brod) (5)117, Kochani (including Vinica, Berovo, Delchevo, Pehchevo) (6)113, Strumica (7)105, Stip (including Probishtip and Radovish) (8)100, Kavadarci (including Negotino and Sveti Nikole) (9)87, Veles (10)66, Struga (11)66, Ohrid (12)61, Kichevo 56, Kriva Palanka* (14)35, (including Kratovo) Gevgelija 34, Debar 24, * closed in 2005 (source: RIHP) As shown in table 1, the staff and the number of beds at the level of secondary health care are not well distributed around the country. This situation is partly explained by the fact that these hospitals provide different types of health services that are not compatible with the number of population they serve. In 2004, the occupancy rate varied between 50% and 65% in the different secondary, specialised and tertiary hospitals (except psychiatric hospitals), which is rather low in international comparison. The average length of stay was rather long in international comparison: 11 days. 21

22 4.4 Dental care Dental care is delivered in public and private health care institutions: general and specialist s offices, health houses and the Dental Clinical Centre. Privatisation of general dentistry is finished, and the privatisation of specialist dentistry is being implemented at the moment. At present, 2,254 dentists have been registered in the Dental Chamber, and the number of dental auxiliaries in the country is 1,205 (source: RIHP, 2005). The state of oral health of the population and of children in particular is far from adequate, also in international comparison. For 12 years old children, the DMFT-12 index for decayed, missing and filled teeth is The DMFT-12 index is 1.47 in the 15 old EU countries and 3.71 in the 10 new EU countries (source: HFA-DB). The global objective of the WHO is that the DMFT-12 should be below 3. Orthodontic problems occur in 48% of the total population in the Republic of Macedonia. Private dentists are not interested in preventive dentistry for children, for financial reasons but also for lack of training in this field. (source: Dental Chamber of Macedonia). 5. PUBLIC HEALTH Target 13 The people in the Republic of Macedonia should have greater opportunities to live in healthier physical and social environments at home, at school, at the workplace and in the local community. Public health is: the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organised efforts of society (Acheson, 1988). Public health analyses and monitors the health status of the population, and tries to improve this health status by influencing the known determinants of health (also known as risk factors) such as environmental and microbiological causes, lifestyle and socio-economic factors. Public health measures include health promotion (including health education), health protection (such as sanitary control), and personal preventive measures (such as immunisation). The whole health care sector should participate in public health activities. The Government has certain institutions at its disposal that are specifically responsible for public health. These are the network of one national and ten regional Institutes for Health Protection and the network of the Institute of Occupational Health and peripheral occupational health services. The regional Institutes for Health Protection have 21 subregional branches called hygiene-epidemiological-sanitary stations. Within the Ministry of Health, there is a Food Directorate and a State Sanitary and Health Inspectorate. Special importance is assigned to disease prevention in the Republic of Macedonia, at all levels: primary, secondary and tertiary prevention. 22

23 Specialized preventive health care is delivered by the Republic Institute for Health Protection Skopje and the regional Institutes for Health Protection, with the local units of these institutes. With such territorial distribution, the whole territory of Macedonia is covered by specialized public health services that are responsible for performing public health functions. The Institutes for Health Protection are not sufficiently equipped and modernised to be able to perform the functions of analysis and planning, health promotion, control of communicable and non-communicable diseases, risk assessment, environmental health, and emergency preparedness. Most financial revenues of the Institutes for Health Protection come from the laboratory work. Public health is the responsibility of the Government, but a small part of the revenues are provided from the State budget. At slightly more than 1 per inhabitant, this allocation for public health by the HIF is very low in international comparison, considering that revenues from the Ministry of Health and other government sources for public health activities are negligible. Target 14 All sectors should recognise and accept their responsibility for health. Many public health activities such as health promotion, food safety control, occupational safety and health, control of communicable and non-communicable diseases, and environmental risks control are intersectoral by nature, involving various ministries and institutions. However, such intersectoral cooperation for protection of the public health is not well developed yet, and various functions are performed less than optimally as a result. Modern legislation compatible with the EU policy and legislation is missing in this field. Specific occupational health activities are performed through the Institute of Occupational Health and by occupational health services mainly within primary health care facilities (health houses). The occupational health services under the PHC were more oriented towards curative occupational medicine than towards modern preventive occupational health and safety activities. Except for certain categories of employees that are exposed to a high risk at the workplace, employers do not pay for occupational safety and health measures. Many occupational medicine activities at enterprise level have been discontinued, and the so-called occupational medicine dispensaries closed. The Macedonian Society of Occupational Medicine and the Institute of Occupational Medicine have made efforts during the last few years to establish the basis for a new model of occupational health services through an intersectoral approach. National strategy for health, healthy environment and safety at work has been adopted in order to strengthen basic occupational medicine services, to expand their coverage, and to improve their content and activities. The status of the Institute of Occupational 23

24 Medicine and of the occupational medicine services should be adjusted to the proposed new organisation. 6. HUMAN RESOURCES Target 18 In the Republic of Macedonia, conditions should be created for the health workers and co-workers to acquire appropriate knowledge, attitudes and skills to protect and promote health. In 2004, there were 17,349 medical workers (including 4,573 physicians) and 5,528 nonmedical workers working in Macedonia. Because of the transformation of part of the health care facilities (16 medical centres) into health houses and general hospitals ( ), problem occurred in the official health statistics with regard to the exact location of the staff by individual levels (types of health care institutions), which makes international comparison difficult. Another problem in the Republic of Macedonia is unemployment of health care staff. In 2004, officially there were 5,344 unemployed medical workers: 376 doctors, 269 dentists, 66 pharmacists, 260 staff with postsecondary education, and 4,373 staff with secondary medical school education (half of them nurses and midwives). Although there is unemployment among doctors and nurses, their numbers per 100,000 population in Macedonia are lower (around 224 doctors) than the averages in the European region of the WHO, which were 353 doctors and 689 nurses per 100,000 population (source: HFA-DB). Moreover, doctors are not evenly distributed in the country - as shown in chapter 5. It is generally recognised that there is a surplus of nonmedical staff in the health sector. The situation is becoming even more complex because of the existing number of students that are being trained in the country and abroad. In 2004, in all years of studies, there were 1,467 students at the Medical Faculty, 1,297 students at the Dentistry Faculty, 550 students at the Pharmaceutical Faculty, as well as 1,600 nursing students in the Bitola Nursing College. This is far more than needed for replacement of staff leaving the system. Moreover, a large but unknown number of students from the Republic of Macedonia are studying abroad in Prishtina, Sofia, Tirana, Belgrade and other cities. When they finish their studies, the majority of them will continue to exert pressure for employment in the health sector. 24

25 Table 2. Age structure of existing primary health care doctors in 2005 providing health services to insurees. Type of PHC doctor < 41 years years > 50 years Total general medicine* ,336 paediatrics gynaecology school medicine occupational medicine total ,981 * with and without specialisation Source: HIF. According to the data about the age structure of the PHC doctors providing health care services to insurees, two thirds are at the age of up to 50 years. Complete data about the exact number of nurses working in primary health care and their age structure are not available because of the process of transformation in 2004, 2005 and At the Medical, Dentistry and Pharmaceutical Faculties, specializations and subspecializations in the relevant areas are taking place. The curricula and the duration of the specializations are in process of harmonization with the specializations in the EU member states. Modules for additional training of doctors in primary health care have been prepared, which training is taking place in the Centres for continuous medical educations, and educators have been trained for teaching those modules. Respective PHC specialization has been introduced and Department for primary health care at the Medical Faculty has been established (during the Health Sector Transition Project, completed in 2002). Nurses and midwives job description is not well defined, and generally they are seen as auxiliary staff rather than as professionals with specific roles to play in the health care system. The system of 4-year secondary education for nurses, midwives, and technicians is not EU compatible. There is no specialisation within their 4-year curriculum, for example in family nursing or psychiatry. The curricula of the college for nurses within the Medical Faculty in Skopje are EU compatible. There is also a nursing college within the Dentistry Faculty. Nurses also suffer from mass unemployment. The strong point of the primary health care nursing is the patronage service. Originally, the patronage service provided preventive care to mothers and children, and then it grew into polyvalent patronage service, for which additional training of 315 patronage nurses in community nursing was conducted. 25

26 7. HEALTH CARE QUALITY ASSURANCE Target 16 The management of the health sector will be oriented towards providing quality health care of the population. Quality of health care is the degree to which health services for individuals and populations increase the likelihood of desired health outcomes and are consistent with current professional knowledge (US Institute of Medicine 1990). Although most health care professionals will by themselves try to optimise their work, the quality of the input, process and outcome of medical care should also be made measurable. The Ministry of Health is responsible for ensuring the quality of the health care for the population in the Republic of Macedonia. The State Health and Sanitary Inspectorate monitors the compliance with various legal obligations, such as the record-keeping by health facilities, maintenance of proper sanitary conditions in facilities, and the control of infectious diseases. The HIF controls the exercising of the rights from health insurance. For medical doctors, dentists and pharmacists, a system of licensing and relicensing has been established, and it is implemented in the Medical, Dental and Pharmaceutical Chamber. Accreditation of health care institutions is done only at the point of opening the institutions, and there is no system of continued re-accreditation. Accreditation of certain laboratories is underway. Except for medical doctors, a system of compulsory and accredited continuing education courses required for relicensing has not been established yet. The financing of continuing educational activities is a problem in view of the low income of health care professionals. Another major bottleneck is the lack of access to Internet sources of information. Internal and external expert oversight of the quality of health care is not performed on a regular basis. The beneficiaries of health services are not actively involved in quality assessment yet, though indirectly they are involved through the selection of the chosen doctor. Although the law regulates the rights and responsibilities of patients, they are insufficiently informed about the exercising of these rights. A system of handling complaints is not well developed either. Guidelines for primary health care have been developed, and clinical guidelines for specialist medical care (but not for dental care), based on evidence-based medicine, have been prepared. The existing guidelines will need constant updating in the future. Guidelines are being used for the improvement of the treatment of patients, but also for educational purposes and for the formulation of the positive list of drugs and of the basic benefits package. 26

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